Penn State Nittany Lions will face Kutztown University Golden Bears this Saturday to round out competition within the East conference. The most recent contest between the two rugby powerhouses came last April where Kutztown overcame Penn State 44-37. Perhaps it was the home field advantage that allowed the Golden Bears to come back after being down by a point (17-18) going into half time.
Having come off a sensational weekend upsetting Davenport University (45-15), Golden Bear Coach Gregg Jones’ biggest concern is a success hangover. “Penn State always expects the win – they never go into anything half way, no matter what, they are not impressed by our win over Dvenport.”
Moving into the match, Kutztown will field the same roster fortunate to escape any resonating injuries. The Golden Bears are relying on season stand-outs to elevate what is already proven to be a strong group of rugby players. Gareth Lourens,sophomore center, had a sensational game last weekend switching into high gear in the second half to propel his team forward. We will also see the return of scrumhalf prodigy, Niku Kruger to take command of the pitch in connecting the wily pack and an organized back line. Both Lourens and Kruger are entrusted with the Go Forward mentality that Coach Jones believes will prompt a successful match.
“It’s a huge game for us, we want to win it… This week, we are expecting a bigger game out of Penn State than last week’s, both emotionally and physically,” says Jones.
Penn State seeks to redeem themselves this year against Kutztown. In the 2012 vintage, the Nittany Lions made ball-handling errors that ultimately sealed their fate. When thinking back to last year’s match, coach Don Farell acknowledges that it is essential to “limit the mistakes we make. Even small mistakes will cost you.” Perhaps, a sorely learned lesson. This Saturday emphasis will be placed on taking care of the ball and maintaining possession and strong defense.
Team development, for all teams in the East conference, has been interesting this season. With two teams suspended the amount of full game play has been limited heightening the excitement and importance of this weekend conference match up. Penn State will be fielding two newer players for their first live match of their PSU careers. “When you play someone like Kutztown it’ll be a real team effort. We are working on new combinations and younger players will get time in the match,” says Farell.
Rugby enthusiasts are keen to see how this spirited showdown will shake out in the East.
Kick off is slated for 1:00pm at Pen State University, PA.